I can hear water running (percolating) in my master bath sinks when my softener regenerates - help?

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, Questions and Answers' started by sac02, Apr 5, 2017.

  1. sac02

    sac02 New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2017
    Location:
    Texas
    So apparently this is abnormal - when my water softener regenerates, I can hear running/bubbling water sounds from the sinks plumbing in my master bedroom. Note I am not hearing the noise of the actual softener running, the machine is in the garage (about 28ft away, 5ft lower than the sink) and can only be heard in the garage. It is just the moving water sounds that we can hear in the master bath.

    The house was built in 2005, and we purchased & moved in 2011. When we first moved in, this was happening (i.e. this is not a new problem)

    The problem with the sounds is that they are enough to wake us up at night if the softener is set to regenerate at the traditional "middle of the night" time (1am, 2am, etc)

    I want to replace the ineffective big box brand water softener with a quality setup using Fleck valve. I am seriously considering a twin tank setup using 9100SXT valve specifically so that we can set the regen time to the middle of the afternoon to avoid the plumbing noise waking us up at night.

    Can anyone give any input regarding the water noise during regen, or my plan to buy a twin tank system because of it?

    Thanks.

    Oh, the house is 4 people, 3500sqft, 25gpg hardness, no iron, chlorine levels reported as 1.1 in city water report (San Antonio, TX)

    Thanks
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2017
  2. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    If you open hose spigots fully, how does the bedroom noise compare? I am looking to confirm that the sound is from the water passing from the meter to the softener.

    How is your supply water routed? Attic? Under a slab?

    The twin tank can certainly move the noise time. It may affect the intensity if the tanks are bigger.
     
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  4. JRC3

    JRC3 Member

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    Location:
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    Do you here it from the drain? If so the trap may be emptying for some reason.
     
  5. sac02

    sac02 New Member

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    Apr 4, 2017
    Location:
    Texas
    Reach4 - the water supply comes in to the side of the house via an underground line, I'm not really sure if the house line is in the slab or in the wall (if that is possible?). It is definitely not in the attic. I can follow up this post with a rough diagram if it helps.

    I will have to try the hose spigots and listen for the noise to be sure, before I tell you one way or the other - I don't want to give incorrect info.

    When you say "affect the intensity" - do you mean pressure/flow rate? And will it improve or worsen? The current softener is a cheap 40,000grain (I think) GE unit from Home Depot that is now 12 years old and essentially worthless. My plan was to replace with a 64,000grain unit - but I was confused if I did twin tanks - do I buy twin 64,000grain, or do I buy slightly smaller (because there are two that alternate)?

    JRC3 - Yes, I hear it from the drain. When you say trap, do you mean the P-trap directly below the sink? Based on your comment, I guess it is a bad thing for the trap to empty? How could I confirm/investigate/troubleshoot that potential issue? (Or am I getting ahead of myself?)
     
  6. JRC3

    JRC3 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2016
    Location:
    S.W. Ohio
    The others can probably advise the best next step, but it sounds to me like you might have a vent problem causing the water to pull out of the trap. For the time being closing the stopper might keep the noise from being too irritating.

    If it were me, I would slowly run some water down the drain to make sure the trap was full. Then I'd force a regen and listen for the noise. or the noise to develope. Maybe it's the regen water that causing the trap to siphon. Or maybe (probably) it's happening because of the toilet flushing or something else. I suspect some trial and error problem solving may be the inevitable route.
     
  7. Bannerman

    Bannerman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    From your description, it sounds as though the drain for the water softener was not plumbed correctly. The drain for the softener may not be vented and therefore maybe causing water to be siphoned out of the 'P' trap under your master bath sink. If that is the situation, replacing the softener with another connected to the same drain will probably not remedy the problem. If water is being drawn out from the 'P' trap, then sewer gas can enter your living space.

    It sounds as though you should have the drains inspected to ensure they are properly vented and the connections all conform to code.
     
  8. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Joined:
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    Occupation:
    Water systems designer, R&D, Technical Director
    Location:
    Ontario California
    This is fairly common. As stated above, improperly gapped softener drains can cause the traps to be siphoned out. Do you have an alternate drain that could be used?

    As to the 9100, probably not necessary. It will save a tiny amount of salt and water but certainly not enough to justify the extra cost/complexity. With your hardness and people... if you want to maximize the efficiency you should get a 2.5 Cu. Ft. system.
     
  9. sac02

    sac02 New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2017
    Location:
    Texas
    Well it certainly sounds like the consensus is likely improper plumbing. Which doesn't necessarily surprise me; I have not yet ceased to be amazed at the poor worksmanship in all aspects of this house.

    Plumbing is not my forte, but I am an avid DIY'er in almost all walks of life and would like to learn / attempt a repair if it is feasible without professional-level tools/experience.

    So does the softener drain typically attach to a sink drain - a similar way that my A/C drain attaches? (I just cleaned out a clogged A/C drain line last week for the first time and learned that they were attached to the upstairs sink drains, I had incorrectly assumed they drained outside.)

    How SHOULD a water softener drain be plumbed?
    What does proper "venting" or "gapping" mean? (both terms used above, I'm not familiar, but want to learn).
    What else could be used as an alternate drain?

    2.5cuft is 80,000 grains, right? That seems like a lot? We are currently 2 adults and 2 kids under 4, although they will abviously grow to teenagers and hopefully older over the lifespan of the new water softener, so I said "4 people". I checked this winter's water use (no sprinklers) and we averaged 4800 gallons/month from November to March, which is only 160gal/day. Does this change the sizing recommendation from you, dittohead?

    I'm seeing options for 5600 and 7000 valves - will one or the other be better for my situation? The lines currently feeding the cheap softener are 3/4", and I see the 7000 valve is larger - will the 7000 provide any flow/pressure advantage, or is the 3/4" inlet the bottleneck that will prevent a bigger valve from operating to its highest capacity?

    I've attached a diagram of the first floor of the house and all water-related items, if it is any help at this point..
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Apr 5, 2017
  10. JRC3

    JRC3 Member

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    Sep 27, 2016
    Location:
    S.W. Ohio
    Take a pic of how your softener drains. Personally, I'd suspect a toilet or something else causing the problem and the softener noise is just a result. But who knows at this point.
     
  11. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2012
    Occupation:
    Water systems designer, R&D, Technical Director
    Location:
    Ontario California
    You can always put in a larger softener, including larger pipe size you can not reduce pipe size.
    As to the size, the larger system is more efficient but only slightly more expensive. The tank diameter is 13" instead of 12". The actual capacity of the unit is close to 50K when set efficiently.

    Assume 200 GPD, rounded up a bit as summer months tend to use more water, showering, sweaty dirty clothing, laundry etc... (Texas is a little muggy in the Summer... I travel there several times a year, I avoid Summer travel there...)

    200x28 GPG (compensated) x 7 days between regenerations = est. 40,000 grains so a 2 cf system would be the minimum recommended if you want to go high efficiency. The extra resin will increase efficiency a bit more.

    Hope this helps.
     
  12. Bannerman

    Bannerman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Here is a link to a page which discusses venting.
    http://inspectapedia.com/plumbing/Plumbing_Vent_Definitions.php

    Here is a link to a page showing one air gap method of connecting a softener. An air gap provides a physical separation of the softener drain from the plumbing drain. This is to prevent contamination of the softener in case the plumbing drain should ever back-up.
    https://www.freshwatersystems.com/p...ir-gap-12-slip-with-barb-elbow-and-38-od.aspx
     
  13. sac02

    sac02 New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2017
    Location:
    Texas
    Thanks a lot everyone. I'll read up on those links Bannerman gave, and I'll report back here tonight or tomorrow with some pictures and hopefully more info on how my house is plumbed.

    On the topic of water softeners... I'm a tinkering type and really like having diagnostic/analytics data available to me, if for no reason other than my personal curiosity. Should I consider the 5800 XTR2 for this reason? I really like that it gives info like: (grabbed from web)
    • Current Flow Rate
    • Peak Flow Rate (can be reset)
    • Totalizer (can be reset)
    • Last Regeneration
    • Average Daily Usage
    • Reserve
    • Number of Regenerations
    • Regeneration Interval
     
  14. JRC3

    JRC3 Member

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    Sep 27, 2016
    Location:
    S.W. Ohio
    The 7000 does most of those diagnostics. Maybe not as easily.

    FR Flow Rate Displays the current outlet flow rate
    PF Peak Flow Rate Displays the highest flow rate measured since the last regeneration
    HR Hours in Service Displays the total hours that the unit has been in service (Since last regen)
    VU Volume Used Displays the total volume of water treated by the unit
    RC Reserve Capacity Displays the system’s reserve capacity calculated
     
  15. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    The purpose of the suggested test is to distinguish if the sound is from water being delivered to the softener, or if it is the drain water from the softener that you are hearing. If it is noise drain, as JRC3 and Bannerman suspect, there is probably an easier solution. Whatever softener you have, it will still draw water and will drain water during backwash. A new softener will have advantages, but the noise (other than possible time shifting) will not be one of them.

    So if there is a plumbing solution to the sound, you want to know which way to look.

    Regarding your idea that a twin tank unit could be limited to only at 3 pm, for example, that would work. However it is going to lose that salt efficiency advantages of a twin tank.

    One thing to watch for is that some would call a 64,000 grain twin to refer to two 2-cuft tanks and some would use that term to refer to two 1-cuft tanks. Watch it.

    If you have a twin regen at no particular time, you could go smaller for each tank, such as using two 1.5 cuft tanks. If you set it to regen at a particular time, for efficiency, you would need to size each tank to the same size as a single tank to get the efficiency.
     
  16. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2012
    Occupation:
    Water systems designer, R&D, Technical Director
    Location:
    Ontario California
    Actually, a twin tank wont lose the efficiency by delaying the regeneration assuming the system can go longer than a day between regenerations. It simply delays the regeneration, not the alternating. The tank is then in standby so.. no loss of efficiency. Cool!
     
    Reach4 likes this.
  17. sac02

    sac02 New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2017
    Location:
    Texas
    Here are some pictures.

    1. Water line running out the rear of the unit (green)
    2. Water line running along the wall of the garage.
    3. Water line going into wall and not sure where to next.
    4. Access panel on outside of house for tub pump. Note blue line.
    5. Blue line connecting to sink drain.

    For lack of a better explanation, I guess the green drain line at some point is converted to blue, maybe they ran out of line? It is about 28 feet of line from the softener to the sink, and about 5 feet uphill (the garage is below grade of the rest of the house).

    IMG_1207.JPG

    IMG_1209.JPG

    IMG_1211.JPG

    IMG_1213.JPG

    IMG_1214.JPG
     
  18. JRC3

    JRC3 Member

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    Sep 27, 2016
    Location:
    S.W. Ohio
    Is that the master bath sink in question? If so then luckily you don't have a vent problem.
     
  19. Bannerman

    Bannerman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    I now understand why the softener drain is so noisy in your master bath. The sound of water discharged under pressure above the 'P' trap will be amplified by the large sink, similar to the flared end of a trumpet.

    That is a typical type of drain connection used under a kitchen sink to drain a dishwasher. Inappropriate for a water softener (potable water appliance) as no air gap can be utilized unless a separate air gap is installed above the counter elevation height.

    Is there an alternate plumbing drain the water softener drain can be directed to? That could be a floor drain, laundry standpipe or a drain line where a 'P' trap maybe installed.

    Perhaps there is a suitable drain location within or near to the 2 pc washroom located behind the WH.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2017
  20. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Joined:
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    Water systems designer, R&D, Technical Director
    Location:
    Ontario California
    Time to clean under your sink. :)
     
  21. sac02

    sac02 New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2017
    Location:
    Texas
    Yes, that is the master bath sink in question. You only get one guess as to whether it is my side or my wife's... lol.

    Maaaaybe... but not likely or easily. :( The sink in the half bath is a pedestal type, so I would have a hard time hiding that plumbing. :/ The laundry is on the other side of the house, so I doubt I can do that unless I can go under the slab (NOT possible), and I don't think I have any floor drains anywhere.

    Can I just punch a hole in the exterior wall of the garage and let it drain into the yard? LOL.

    BTW, thanks a lot to everyone for helping me with this, it has bugged me for the last 6 years. It feels good to actually make some progress towards diagnosing/resolving it.
     
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